Thursday, June 04, 2015

Cheating Allegations Subplot in the $10K Heads-Up

Woke up this morning kind of marveling at this story about allegations of possible cheating having occurred in the $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em (Event No. 10) at the World Series of Poker.

Saw the tweets first, then read the discussion over on Two Plus Two where two players who may have been victims -- Connor Drinan and Praytush Buddiga -- offer their input on what might have taken place. Both of their posts appear on the first page of the thread.

Had been reading before about the WSOP using new cards this year, these thinner Modiano cards that I recall some mentioned early on were perhaps more susceptible to marking than what had been used before. Dan Goldman made a reference to them in his post that I was recommending earlier this week.

The story involves a player from Moldova named Valeriu Coca who defeated both Drinan and Buddiga along with Matt Marafioti and Byron Kaverman before losing in the quarterfinals. I recognized the name immediately, realizing Coca had been at the EPT Grand Final recently, and in fact ended as the chip leader after the first Day 1 flight of the France Poker Series Monaco Main Event I covered start-to-finish while there.

Here’s my end-of-day write-up from that first day of the FPS Monaco event, featuring Coca. He’d go on to finish 73rd in that event for a small cash.

Apparently Coca’s fast start in that event prompted a Czech writer named Martin Kucharik to post an article on the site reporting Coca’s having been banned from poker rooms in Prague for cheating, in particular for marking cards by bending corners on kings and aces. Here’s a Google translated version of Kucharik’s article, if you’re curious (clunky, but enough to get the gist).

If you read Drinan’s long post you see allegations at the WSOP have to do with card marking as well as some additional suspicions about invisible ink and special sunglasses. (Looking back at a couple of photos from Day 1a of the FPS Monaco Main Event, Coca had sunglasses on in one of them, off in another.) All pretty cloak-and-dagger, with the sussing out of the possible scheme by affected players making for an absorbing read.

The WSOP is presently looking into the matter, with VP of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky having just tweeted to Kevmath a short while ago that “preliminary testing of cards show no markings or use of any foreign solution” but that the investigation is ongoing.

The $10K Heads-Up will finish today with Paul Volpe and Keith Lehr (who eliminated Coca) contending for the bracelet. Will be curious to see who emerges as the winner there, but the outcome of this Event No. 10 subplot is easily the more intriguing story right now.

(EDIT [added 6/5/15]: Two relevant articles from yesterday following up on the story over on PokerNews: “WSOP Investigates Cheating Allegations in $10K Heads-Up Championship” and “Alleged $10K Heads-Up Championship Cheater Denies All.”)

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

I heard a tennis commentator say one time that Eastern Europeans have a different morality. He said that they feel it's not cheating if you can get away with it.

I've always wondered if it's not because of being behind the Iron Curtain where you had to exist by using your wits and, therefore, anything was fair game.

6/04/2015 8:01 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Interesting. I've been spending a lot of time lately reading about Richard Nixon (in preparation for a class I'll be teaching this fall), and your comment immediately makes me think of how he consistently speaks of the Soviets as naturally inclined to lie and cheat and do whatever is necessary to succeed (in various contexts) and characterizing that approach as different from Americans' but necessary to understand and defend against.

(Of course, he says all this without acknowledging all of the examples of his own, similar willingness to cheat in order to win.)

6/05/2015 9:22 AM  

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